District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray has struggled with yet another issue with the residency of a potential nominee in his administration.
The mayor announced September 21 that he would place Robert L. Mallett on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, effectively running the three-member panel. This news did not go over well with community activist and noted city government watchdog Dorothy Brizill. She raised questions about Mallett’s residency, since he recently moved from New York.
Two days later, the mayor withdrew Mallett’s nomination ahead of potential scrutiny from city council, the media, and other observers. D.C. government has a strict rule that requires the mayor’s nominees to also be District residents for at least three consecutive years prior to assuming their position. Mallett moved to the District from New York City in 2010.
Mayor Gray’s spokeswoman had some brief words about the turn of events with Mallett.
“[Gray] is very disappointed that he is unable to send the nomination,” said Linda Wharton-Boyd, according to The Washington Post.
“Mallett would have been a tremendous asset to the city and would have provided great leadership,” she added.
Though disqualified because of residency concerns, Mallett would have brought relevant experience to his role. He was a former city administrator under former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelley. He also worked in New York City from 2001-2009.
Gray’s original course of action included seeking a waiver to allow Mallett to serve despite his residency issues. However, D.C. Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, chair of the Committee on Government Operations, said she would be unlikely to approve Gray’s request.
The controversy brings the residency issue back in the spotlight for Mayor Gray. At the end of August, his newly appointed deputy chief of staff, Andrea “Andi” Pringle, was brought on board. One week later, as a result of a formal complaint filed by Brizill, Pringle stepped down from her position due to concerns about her voting record. In that case, Pringle was found to have voted in the District primary in September 2010, months after her move to North Bethesda, Maryland.
The misstep with Mallett has brought about some changes to the way nominees will be handled in the future.
The Gray administration said that all nominees would now be vetted through the Office of the Attorney General before being made public. This is to ensure that any potential issues have been cleared ahead of time for a smoother process.